INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Asian equities shot higher Tuesday as growing fears about a possible second wave of infections was overshadowed by the US Federal Reserve's launch of a massive programme to support Main Street businesses hit by the virus lockdown.
The rally across the region helped wipe out most of the losses suffered Monday following news of a spike in new cases in Beijing, Florida, Texas, Tokyo and other key markets.
Investors were also taking heart from the easing of lockdowns around the world, with several European countries opening their borders and British shops trading again.
But the main driver of the gains was the Fed's Main Street Lending Program and an emergency lifeline under which the Fed will buy up to $750 billion in corporate bonds.
The Fed several times in recent weeks was on the verge of rolling out the Main Street scheme, but held off as it expanded the criteria to reach more struggling companies.
The plan is part of a massive financial backstop put in place by the bank to protect the economy from the worst of the virus crisis. The government has also pledged trillions of dollars in stimulus support.
The US Chamber of Commerce called it "a lifeline for businesses that have been disrupted by the health and economic consequences of COVID-19".
Fed boss Jerome Powell will give two days of congressional testimony from Tuesday, which observers will be following after he caused ructions on markets last week with a sobering warning about the economic outlook.
New total lockdowns 'unlikely'
The announcement saw all three main indexes on Wall Street reverse early losses to end well up, and the gains filtered through to Asia.
Tokyo and Sydney were each more than three percent higher, while Seoul surged more than four percent.
Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta were all more than two percent higher, Taipei gained 1.7 percent and Shanghai added 0.9 percent.
"The size and the pace of Fed balance sheet expansion is something that will put a floor under global equity markets," Stephen Gallo, of BMO Capital Markets, told Bloomberg TV.
There remains a sense on unease about signs of a COVID-19 resurgence, with Beijing locking down a number of estates after more than 100 people were diagnosed with the disease, just as the city was getting back on track and after months of no new cases.
"A cluster like this is a concern and it needs to be investigated and controlled - and that is exactly what the Chinese authorities are doing," WHO emergencies director Mike Ryan said.
But AxiCorp's Stephen Innes pointed out that investors were getting too used to the fact that the disease will not disappear without a vaccine but new clusters could be contained rather than governments shutting down entire economies again.
"While the run of COVID-19 headlines emphasize that a demand recovery is likely to be a slow process, it seems unlikely that we see a return to the lockdown measures" of the first half of the year, he said in a note.
The return to buying of riskier assets and selling of safe havens saw the dollar tumble against most currencies, with the Australian dollar and Mexican peso more than two percent higher and the South Korean won 0.8 percent up. The Canadian and New Zealand dollars were up around one percent.
Key figures around 0230 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 3.3 percent at 22,244.96 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 2.7 percent at 24,411.80
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.9 percent at 2,915.20
West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 1.6 percent at $36.51 per barrel
Brent North Sea crude: DOWN 1.6 percent at $39.07 per barrel
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1330 from $1.1317 at 2045 GMT
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.30 yen from 107.37 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2627 from $1.2596
Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.74 pence from 89.85 pence
New York - Dow: UP 0.6 percent at 25,763.16 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.7 percent at 6,064.60 (close)